He gave her a loving kiss on the forehead and then finally settled in his chair with her frail hand in his. He sat there memorizing her face and rubbing her hand, remembering each moment he had the great fortune of spending with her, while waiting for her to wake.
The only thing that gave him some solace in this interim was the fact that Khushi kept a strong grasp on his hand, never letting it go in her nightmare. She would shout out things to her pursuer, whisper silent prayers and sometimes voice her thoughts, she would give a moan here or there, which seared Arnav's heart, making him hate himself for not being there, for not having protected his Khushi when she had needed him the most. And then came the heart-wrenching cry that made his heart drop with guilt, it was a very low murmur but it rang with great clarity in his ears.
It was said as a prayer, a prayer that he come and save her, she in that moment, when Shyam had advanced on her had prayed for him to come, had hoped beyond hope that he would come and save her, and he had failed... he had failed. That cry tugged at his heart, which bled hopelessly. She had hoped, believed, trusted that he would come, even after everything he had done, how could she blindly have so much faith in him and when he had none in her. He tried to pull his hand out of hers, not being able to hold on after betraying her trust so brutally, but she grabbed onto it, digging her nails into his palms. She needed him, his support to help her fight through the nightmare her unconscious was throwing at her in order for her to come out of it. And so he swallowed the hard lump which had been rising in his throat, and held onto her hand with dear life, he had failed one too many times, but not this time. He had not been there to protect her this afternoon but he would not leave her side until she had coped with it the second time round. He couldn't be selfish right now and leave just because he didn't have the courage to stay there and listen to her encounter with Shyam, it wasn't about him it was about her and she needed him and so he would not leave her side but would relive the nightmare with her.
Holding onto her hand he climbed into bed next to her, to wrap her whole frame within him and hold her steady as she writhed and jerked in bed, mimicking the actions of her escape from Shyam. He held her tight, continually whispering in her ear that she was ok, everything was ok, until finally she became still, and relaxed in his embrace. After a long while he began to unwrap himself from her and move out of the bed when Khushi woke up with a start and grabbed hold of him. Realising she was scared he held her tightly and whispered soothingly into her ear.
'Relax Khushi...its' ok. Your safe now, that monster... he won't ever be able to come near you let alone touch you. Ssshhh its ok...it's all going to be ok. You're safe. I'm here now and no one... no one is going to hurt you... ssshhh its ok...' Cradling her, he rocked her back and forth until she stopped sobbing and nestled into his chest. They lay like that, in each others' embrace, with Arnav rocking her lightly, rubbing her back and stroking her hair, leaving an occasional kiss in it.
After what seemed hours, Khushi finally pulled out of the embrace, having calmed down and realized in whose arms she laid wrapped. She pulled back from him and gave him a long hard stare. He stared back, trying to decipher what she wanted. There were questions in her eyes, as to why he was here when he didn't believe her. His eyes answered with his guilt, grief and regret, conveying just how much he hated himself for putting her through so much suffering, wishing that he could take it back and make it all right for her again.
His response moved something inside her, and she looked away for a bit, when she finally met his eyes again, he was unable to keep hold of her gaze. They bore her pain. Pure, insurmountable pain.
A lone tear trickled down her cheek and fell onto his hand, which was still cradling her face. As he looked up to her she looked away. Sending the message loud and clear to him, she didn't want to hear his sorry or his grief, it brought her no joy, she wanted to be left alone and so he gave her, her desire, as he had promised himself he would.
He wiped away fresh tears, he could let them flow outside but not in here, where they bought Khushi more pain than solace, and silently moved out of the bed. As he moved towards the door a friendly advice once given to him resonated in his ears,
If you ever come across love in your life then hold onto it ASR, because love is greater than hatred, it's the greatest, make sure you never let it go from your life.
Lavanya's parting words. He should have taken heed of it. He was losing Khushi, not to Death, not to another man, but due to his own ill placed hatred. The pain was unbearable, he didn't think anything could be worse than the pain of seeing Khushi crashing in the ER room, but now having to leave her because she didn't want him in her life was pain indescribable.
After everything that had happened she didn't hate him, she couldn't... because no matter what, he was her Arnav ji. And now... now he was in pain. Granted it was pain he had brought onto himself, while she had tried in vain to make him realise the damage he was doing but still she couldn't see him like this, defeated, and writhing in guilt. And truth to be told it wasn't completely his fault, he was under a grave misunderstanding. A misunderstanding she had helped create due to not telling him the truth in the first place, but he should have at least given her the chance to explain or should have looked for the truth himself, if he could not trust her, instead of just coming to a verdict. A verdict that was now giving him such grief.
She could see his silhouette outside the window, he had left the room, but would not leave her side, until she was discharged. The doctors had said her recovery was going well but would keep her overnight for observation, in case anything went wrong, and if, as it seemed likely, all was well she would be discharged in the morning.
And so he sat, her Laad Governer... he had shown his dominant ASR persona by stating that he was going to stay, no one else, she had heard from Payal's lips. There had apparently been quite an ordeal outside after Khushi had woken up and the doctors had said that she was to stay the night and one person could stay with her. Garima and Madhimathi had wanted to stay, but Payal had said that Shashi would need them and so they should go home with him and that she would stay. But then Laad Governer had shown his governance and stated that he would be staying the night, which led to a lot of upheaval as neither Payal, Garima or Madhumathi were happy with him being near Khushi as they held him responsible for Khushi being in the hospital in the first place (having heard about everything that had happened at the Raizada's). But Arnav, had put his foot down and claimed that he was her husband and that it was his right to stay whether they liked it or not, thus putting an end to that conversation. And so Garima, Madhumathi, Shashi, Payal, Aakash, Nani and NK had all given her teary goodbyes, telling her that they would come back first thing in the morning. While Anjali, and Manorama had whispered sheepish goodbyes, wanting to see her but not sure on how to talk to her after all the debacle that had taken place, due to them.
After they had left Arnav had taken up his position outside her private room, as he was uncertain about whether Khushi would like him to be inside with her or not. He would peak in every now and then making sure Khushi was fine, and when he thought that she was asleep he would come next to her, brush her soft innocent cheeks and lay a kiss on her forehead, sometimes he would whisper an apology to her, while at other times he would just leave an unintended tear on her cheek and then would be gone to his place outside the window, where Khushi would spy him.
He had left minutes ago, thinking that she was asleep he had come in and given her a kiss and a grieving tear. She wiped his tear from her cheek and looked at it. It hurt. It hurt her a lot that he was in so much pain, she wanted more than anything to relieve him from it, but wasn't sure how. Because it wasn't about her forgiving him, that she had done before he had even realised his mistake, for she had understood his reason behind his action, as wrong as those actions had been she still understood his plight. After all she had made the same decision to keep the secret from him and his whole family for the very same reason, Anjali. She had not wanted to hurt her and neither had he, and that was what had caused the entire problem, that ended up hurting them all. Leading to her being on one side of the wall and him on the other, when they both wanted nothing but to be with each other, yet did not know how to be together.